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New NICE programme to evaluate medical technologies established

16 November, 2009  

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is launching a new programme focusing specifically on the evaluation of innovative medical technologies (including devices and diagnostics).

This new programme will both complement and operate in conjunction with NICE’s existing technology appraisal capacity, which will continue to evaluate new pharmaceutical and biotechnology products.

The Evaluation Pathway Programme for Medical Technologies will help enable new medical technologies, or important modifications of existing ones, to be used more quickly and consistently in the NHS. The types of products which might be included are medical devices that deliver treatment such as those implanted during surgical procedures, technologies that give greater independence to patients, and diagnostic devices or tests used to detect or monitor medical conditions.

Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE said: “We’re very pleased to announce that the Evaluation Pathway Programme for Medical Technologies is underway. ‘High quality care for all’ acknowledged the need to simplify the pathway by which medical technologies pass from development into wider use, and develop ways to benchmark and monitor uptake. This new programme takes forward that vision, and we look forward to helping patients and the NHS to benefit more quickly and consistently from innovative medical technologies.” The Evaluation Pathway Programme will support the newly created Medical Technologies Advisory Committee.  MTAC will identify and select innovative medical technologies and route them through the appropriate NICE guidance programme. It will also develop its own guidance.

Professor Bruce Campbell has been appointed to chair the Medical Technologies Advisory Committee. As a Consultant Vascular Surgeon and Chair of NICE’s Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee since 2002, Professor Campbell has extensive experience of NICE’s evaluation processes and guidance production. He is on the Project Board for the Evaluation Pathway Programme, providing advice and direction on the establishment of Programme.

Professor Bruce Campbell said: “I am pleased to be chairing the new Medical Technologies Advisory Committee which should be able to speed up the way that promising new technologies start to be used in the NHS. We will select those devices and diagnostic technologies which claim to have particular advantages and be sure that they are evaluated in the best possible way. That may mean NICE evaluating them to produce guidance about their use, and it may also mean helping them to be investigated more thoroughly in research. I am looking forward to working with the wide range of independent experts and other members of the Committee in identifying technologies which will benefit patients and use NHS resources in the best possible way”.

Professor Campbell will chair the inaugural meeting of the new Medical Technologies Advisory Committee on 20 November 2009. It is envisaged that draft methods and process guides will be published for consultation in late spring 2010, with the first guidance published in autumn 2010. 

Dr Carole Longson, Director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE said: “This is an important new area of work for the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation.  The Centre has developed a world class reputation in the assessment and appraisal of health technologies.  The Evaluation Pathway Programme for Medical Technologies provides a great opportunity for us to expand the use of this expertise.” Mark Samuels, British In-Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) said: “The creation of the Evaluation Pathway Programme has been a collaborative process, bringing together expertise from NICE, the medical technologies industry, the Department of Health and the Centre for Evidence-based Purchasing.  This is a significant development in the relationship between industry and NICE, which can only benefit the NHS.  The Programme will make it easier for the NHS to understand which new medical technologies, including devices and diagnostics, potentially offer significant benefits to patients.”

Welcoming the creation of the Evaluation Pathway Programme, Mike Wallace, Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI) commented: “This is an exciting development for everyone involved in the medical technologies industry.  Having a clear pathway to identify and evaluate promising innovative medical technologies is good for patients, the NHS and manufacturers.  I encourage the industry to contribute to the Evaluation Pathway Programme for Medical Technologies when the process gets underway next year.”